Venice
January 1659

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Institute of Historical Research

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Allen B. Hinds (editor)

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1931

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279-287

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'Venice: January 1659', Calendar of State Papers Relating to English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 31: 1657-1659 (1931), pp. 279-287. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=90018 Date accessed: 02 September 2014.


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January 1659

Jan. 2.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Costantinopoli.
Venetian
Archives.
255. Giovanni Battista Ballarino, Venetian Secretary at the Porte, to the Doge and Senate.
At the house of the English ambassador it is asserted that the Barbary corsairs have come to terms with the English, upon divers conditions, so far kept secret. His Excellency denies this agreement, but if it should prove to be true it could not be kept hidden.
The captain of the English ship previously confiscated by the Vizier, was detained at Smyrna as a suspected spy of the most serene republic, according to the statement made by the renegade Epernon, who came with him. The Turks were on the point of having him put to death, but they wished first to learn all the particulars of his proceedings and intelligences. But he had the good fortune to escape from the prisons, and it is not known where he has got to.
The merchants interested in that cargo and particularly some Armenians, have requested me for certain proofs in that chancery touching the present business and the loss of their property, as a security for them with their correspondents. From this severity and from the orders which the Vizier gave at Adrianople one may see how great is the danger for anyone who is merely spoken of as either coming from or going to Venice. For this reason I thought fit to send for some English and French shipmasters who are here to warn them to proceed with due circumspection and to assure them of the particular care which the most serene republic always has for their protection.

Pera of Constantinople, the 2nd January, 1658 [M.V.].
[Italian; deciphered.]
Jan. 3. Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
256. Francesco Giavarina, Venetian Resident in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Owing to the frosts and the bad weather, several weeks have passed without any news of the doings of the king of Sweden in Denmark, and the ordinary couriers of Flanders last arrived have brought no letters from those parts, as all transit is blocked in the Netherlands and consequently the posts of Hamburg, and other places which should take those letters to Holland, are cut off, and at present not even the couriers of Holland are able to reach Antwerp in time for the despatch for England. The Swedish ministers lament this absence of news, but though they have no letters it does not prevent them from announcing that their master's affairs are all in a good state even if he has retired from Copenhagen, adding that by keeping that city blockaded and cutting off supplies he will reduce it to such a state that it will be obliged to yield to his victorious army in the spring, and if they are slow they prosper and are always winning victories.
The absence of any news of the English squadron since it left these shores for the second time, makes the government anxious and the Swedish ministers here also. There has been time since its departure to hear of its arrival at the Sound if the wind had continued favourable and it had not been blocked by ice or other obstacles on the way, which might prolong its passage in the present cold season, since no reliance can be placed on the stability of the weather, which changes from one moment to another, especially in a climate as bad as this, which grows worse and worse the nearer one approaches the North.
The Dutch are aware that the Swedes have arranged with the English to give them the castle of Cronemburg, if they will afford a vigorous backing to their interests and facilitate their conquests by encouraging their enterprises. They have also seen the departure of the squadron and reflected upon the detriment which they would suffer if that castle and the Sound should come into the hands of this nation. So although they seek every means to avoid a rupture with England, they clearly perceive at the same time that if the cession should take place all their precautions would not suffice to prevent it. Accordingly, in their anxiety to keep open the passage of the Baltic Sea we hear that in the arsenals of Holland they are equipping 40 more powerful ships of war so that they may be ready for all eventualities, whether it be a breach with this government, or to employ them in assisting the Danes unless an adjustment with Sweden should come about previously as they would desire, and which they are promoting more for their own advantage than for any other reason.
Here also they announce that they intend to equip a large number of warships for possible eventualities, and some are already being fitted out; but while they suffer from the scarcity of cash which prevails just now, they cannot make much progress with the arming. It is true that with the opening of parliament, if means are found for raising large sums of money, it may then be possible to go on with their plans; but all these things require a long time, so it is more likely that their resolution will remain void of effect, and that they will not be in a position to make so much show as they would like people to believe.
The Council of State has spent the whole of this week in discussing and disputing over the question I reported a week ago. At last they are all of one mind, and only to-day have they despatched the writs to the communes of England and Wales for the nomination of members to take part in the next parliament, which will consist of two chambers, a higher and a lower. They say that these will make a change in the government, i.e. in the title of the Protector, but in a matter so much discussed and nothing done one will hardly credit it until it has happened.
In conformity with the orders of the Council the Protector, his household and the officers of the army, spent the whole of the day before yesterday in prayer and humiliation to God for His blessing on the approaching parliament.
Yesterday evening the secretary of the Ambassador Bordeos returned from France. He had been sent to Lyon to inform the king and cardinal of the decision of this government to send a reinforcement of ships to the Swede. What he brings has not yet transpired in the short space since his return to the Court.
The latest communications from your Serenity are of the 23rd November. They came by way of France having been delayed some days by the bad weather. They enclose another copy of the consul Armano's letter about the ship Angelo and another of the Captain General da Mar, reporting the seizure on the ship of all the non-contentious property belonging to the Turks. Although I have made my representations to the secretary, in accordance with the first instructions, these last papers have come in time to correct them as no decision has yet been taken on the matter. The secretary excused himself on the plea of important internal affairs which prevented him laying it before the Protector or the Council, but he promised definitely to do it as soon as a favourable opportunity occurs. I will not fail to urge the matter, and while I regret the delay I rejoice at having forestalled the complaints of the interested parties, who are keeping quiet and making no move.
London, the 3rd January, 1659.
Postscript: The ducal missives of the 30th November have just reached me by way of France with another copy of Armano's letter.
As they hold out hopes of the speedy release of Commander Zane I feel confident the next will bring the news. That will be excellent in view of the excessive slowness of this government in issuing the orders which I asked for in the name of your Serenity.
[Italian.]
Jan. 4. Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Germania.
Venetian
Archives.
257. Alvise Molin, Venetian Ambassador in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
From Hamburg comes the report of the capture of Sonderburg by the imperial arms, with the loss of 1500 Swedes. The Swedes were concentrating in Fionia and Zealand. Their king was expecting the 24 English ships sent by the Protector to help, but here they insist that the English are going to try to introduce negotiations for peace between Sweden and Denmark.
Vienna, the 4th January, 1659.
[Italian.]
Jan. 7.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
258. Francesco Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
In the visit which he paid me yesterday the Dutch ambassador seemed very disturbed at the reports which are circulating of the Peace arranged between the Catholic king and the Protector of England since he holds that if it is true it can have no other aim than to wage war subsequently on the States with greater vigour. He protested to me that his masters did not desire the ruin of the king of Sweden but the preservation of Denmark. They only wanted peace for themselves and everybody.
Paris, the 7th January, 1659.
[Italian.]
Jan. 10.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
259. Francesco Giavarina, Venetian Resident in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The continued lack of news from abroad, due to the severity of the weather, and the barrenness at home, where nothing has happened this week at the palace, restricts the writing of everyone by this ordinary, and I ask the indulgence of the Senate or the brevity of these lines.
The Council does not cease its meetings, but spends the time solely in preparing what is necessary for the coming parliament. The members are being chosen in the country, and the names of some are already known. As they were creatures of the late Protector it is hoped that they will behave in a satisfactory manner and please the present one, who acts on the same principles and in the same spirit.
The solemn fast having been celebrated at Whitehall last week was observed this week in the city of London and throughout England and Wales, with the procedure usual in this country.
When they were hoping to hear of the arrival at the Sound of the squadron of English warships, the government has learned with extreme concern that it has suffered so severely from storms and other incidents of the voyage that it is incapable of remaining at sea without a general overhauling, and without an entirely fresh stock of provisions, requiring a large sum of money to restore it to its original condition. So while it has rendered no benefit to the king of Sweden it has become a heavy charge to this government and done it much harm.
With the letters from France yesterday I received your Serenity's of the 7th December, with a copy of the Consul Armano's letter reporting that the captain of the ship Angelo has landed Commander Zane. This is extraordinary, especially in view of the tardiness of the secretary of state in laying my representations before the Council. As everything has to pass through his hands it is necessary to put up with the delays, although they are vexatious. I shall now insist on the punishment of the captain, who deserves a lesson, as well as for robbing the commander. But I cannot venture to foretell the result of my complaints and demands since this is a country where nothing can be obtained even though reason and equity require it.
London, the 10th January, 1659.
[Italian.]
Jan. 17.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
260. Francesco Giavarina, Venetian Resident in England, to the Doge and Senate.
With the approach of the time appointed for parliament, for it iacks only three weeks to the day of meeting, the communes have hurried on with the election of their deputies, and fresh names reach London every day. Here they are getting things ready so that all may be in order for that day, which is eagerly anticipated by everyone to see what results the assembly will produce. Some contend that it will confirm the present state by finding suitable means for settling things, others maintain that there must result not only a change of government but changes and disturbances serious enough to disturb the repose and quiet at present enjoyed and which the Protector does his utmost to maintain, and that it will kindle another conflagration in these realms which it will not be easy to quench. There certainly is good reason for fearing some disturbance as this assembly will be composed of more than one party, so it will not be difficult for differences and confusion to arise, calculated to turn everything upside down.
When parliament opens, the affair of certain officers of the army will be reawakened, which now sleeps, only waiting for an opportunity to come upon the scene again. The question is a ticklish one and of extreme importance, so it will be interesting to see what the outcome will be. At present one can only guess, but there can be no doubt that the Protector will apply all his intelligence and energy to secure a solution satisfactory to himself.
Certain ships of the fleet sent to the Sound which recently returned as reported, which were delayed by a storm at sea, have cast anchor in England these last days. With these, Sir [George] Aschiu and the Chevalier Duval have returned to London, the former having been engaged to serve the king of Sweden and the latter returning to his master after offering condolences and congratulations on his behalf here. In addition to the injuries suffered by the squadron in hulks, rigging and everything else, a large number of the sailors have perished, and the few who remain are almost all sick and in a very sorry state, due to the great hardships suffered and to the excessive cold encountered which was so severe that the men dropped dead (che facevano miseramente cadere gli huomini). When about to enter the Sound they were surrounded by icebergs so huge as to resemble great floating islands and which blocked their passage. Finding it hopeless to proceed, they summoned a council of war which decided to turn back to England to avoid risking the loss of the entire squadron if they ventured to attempt the passage. (fn. 1)
The frosts have certainly been extreme these last days and the waters so high that in divers places they have done serious damage, notably in Holland, where the force of great blocks of ice broke some of the dykes and all the country round, estimated at over 4000 acres (campi) of land, was instantly flooded, twenty villages in a low situation in that area being flooded and a countless number of men and cattle drowned.
Sir [William] Locart is staying in London for some days, spending a great part of his time in consultation and secret conferences with the secretary of state and some of the Council, presumably about the plans for the coming campaign in Flanders. He left here to return to his governorship of Dunkirk, taking with him 6000l. sterling, a very feeble amount to satisfy the troops, but owing to their shortage of cash here it was not possible to give him more, though they promised to send him further sums as soon as they could.
London, the 17th January, 1659.
[Italian.]
Jan. 24.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghiltera.
Venetian
Archives.
261. Francesco Giavarina, Venetian Resident in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The weather has been so perverse and severe for some weeks past that it has completely prevented couriers from reaching London from any quarter; the posts are delayed from France and Flanders, causing general dissatisfaction. This accounts for the lack of news and consequently of material to write about. Here nothing is happening, and they think of nothing except the preparations for parliament. This will begin its session 13 days hence, on the 27th January according to their style, and until this body meets no one can do anything, all the ministers at Whitehall being busy over it, and it is the only business that is transacted with any enthusiasm, everything else being at a standstill, no matter how important.
News of the elections to parliament arrives daily, and it is observed that several have been chosen who have always shown a greater leaning for the royal party than for the present government. If they are not rejected by the Protector it is supposed that they will make proposals in parliament out of sympathy with the sentiments there, causing anger and disturbance. It also appears that even the city of London has chosen members who are not thoroughgoing supporters of the present rule, and this goes to strengthen the impression that there will be trouble calculated to disturb the quiet they enjoy and which they would like to see more firmly established.
When parliament meets, both the upper and lower chambers are to sit; but it is greatly to be feared that differences and disputes will arise between them in the first sessions, because the house of Commons seems indisposed to accept the house of Lords, since they do not approve of the nomination by the late Protector of 60 barons who are to form that house. It will be interesting to see what happens, because it was this question which had a great deal to do with the dissolution of the last parliament. The issue is, therefore, awaited with curiosity, and I will keep a close look-out and report faithfully to the Senate.
They are energetically repairing the damage suffered by the fleet back from the Baltic, repairing the hulls and providing all that they require. One cannot learn with what object they are in such a hurry over this; and the repairs cannot be executed so very speedily because the lack of money will delay it, especially as they will need great sums to refit then completely.
Sir [George] Aschiu, who came back with the ships, has orders to leave again for the Sound with two or three ships (fn. 2) on which will go the brave sailors enlisted by the ministers of Sweden here, to serve their master. They are waiting for a favourable wind, but at present it is so contrary and severe that it allows not the slightest hope of making any progress towards the Sound.
Nothing more that is definite is heard about the coming to this Court of the ambassador extraordinary of Denmark, though some contend that he has reached Hamburg and is waiting there for an opportunity to take his passage to England.
London, the 24th January, 1659.
[Italian.]
Jan. 31.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
262. Francesco Giavarina, Venetian Resident in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Parliament is to sit for the first time on Thursday next. Many of the members chosen by the counties keep turning up in London to be ready for the assembly. As the elections of members for some of the boroughs are still to be made, orders have been sent for this to be done without further loss of time so that they may be ready in the brief space which remains before the opening, as they desire the chamber to be as full of votes as possible.
Among the members already elected besides many whose sympathies are more with the royal party than with the present rule, there are others who are dissatisfied with this government. Among these the chief are: Ferfax, formerly general for the parliament; Lambert, the bitter enemy of Cromwell, for reasons known to the Senate; and Harrison, who as an opponent of the Protector is only waiting for an opportunity for avenging the affront received from his Highness's father, who exiled him to the isle of Wight for a certain time owing to suspicions conceived against him. These, with many others, who are not altogether satisfied, might arouse some sleeping dog and stir him up to bite and do mischief. This is greatly to be feared, especially as it seems that the Protector cannot refuse anyone who has been elected, because when he decided to call a parliament he promised that it should be free, that is that the communes should elect whomsoever they pleased and that no one should reject them.
The first sittings of this most important assembly will be devoted to nominating the ministers and officials who are to serve in the parliament, in electing the Speaker or president. Then, following the usual course, they may perhaps ordain a fast to be observed by parliament alone, after which they will come to business. It is said there are three things which will come up first for discussion. As these are both important and ticklish it will be interesting to see what happens. The first is the question of the succession to the present Protector; the second is the refusal to acknowledge the upper chamber in any way; the third is a demand that the Council of State shall render account by what authority they recently assigned 20,000l. sterling a year to the mother of the present Protector and wife of the late one, who is to leave Whitehall and live in another palace, formerly royal. (fn. 3) Actually such an assignment can only be made by parliament, neither the Council not the Protector having authority to grant to others what is not their own, since the money which is collected all belongs to the state and must be disposed of by the representatives of the community, i.e. parliament, and by none other.
If these points, with many others of a similar character, are proposed, they cannot fail to give rise to discord and dissension, and they might easily lead to worse consequences. Accordingly, it may happen that parliament will shortly be dissolved; but the need for money and the hope that it may find the means of collecting large sums may make them hesitate before taking such a step. It is true that if they began to discuss the questions aforesaid it would seem probable that the members would not be much inclined to grant supplies, and so the dismissal of the assembly might easily ensue. But there is one consideration which makes it doubtful whether this will happen or not, and this is that the present Protector is not the man to take such vigorous measures as his father, as he does not entirely share the sentiments of the deceased, nor does he inspire such fear. So the beginning and end of this important assembly will be interesting.
The government is energetically pressing forward the refitting of the ships which recently returned so damaged from the Sound, though the real object of this haste has not yet transpired. In Holland also they are arming furiously and with great energy. It may be that the efforts of both are directed towards the North, the latter in favour of Denmark and the former of Sweden. That monarch does not seem so well placed at present as he was some months back, and therefore they will do everything here to assist him and to preserve him from the disasters with which he is threatened owing to his present weakness, especially as the indications of the opening of peace negotiations between the two kings appear to have vanished, and there is no longer any hope of a reconciliation before the season for campaigning returns.
Of the troops which this government keeps in Flanders they have recently brought back a whole regiment of infantry, quartering it in the neighbourhood of London, so that in conjunction with the other troops which are scattered about these parts, they may be ready to deal with any circumstances that may arise. The opening of parliament arouses great apprehension, and there is no doubt that if it does not work in harmony with the Protector it will occasion tumults and disturbances, but if they agree together all will be well. Such an outcome must remain doubtful until the event is seen.
The ducal missives of the 14th and 21st December have reached me together via France. They were both delayed by the horrible weather which has prevailed these last weeks. The first directs me to ask audience of the Protector to thank him for his generous expressions and other matter with which the Senate has charged me. I will do so, but it will not be granted until after the opening of parliament, since they will attend to nothing else at present which does not concern their home affairs, for to foreign affairs they pay not the slightest attention. The second informs me about the ransom of Thomas Galileo and will serve me to illustrate how ready the republic always is to oblige this state.
London, the 31st January, 1659.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]

Footnotes

1 The decision to return was taken on the 15th Dec. o.s. when near the Scaw. The Maidstone, Capt. Thomas Penrose, put in at Aldeburgh on 26 Dec. o.s. with Sir Gustavus Duval on board. The Newbury and Essex came in with her, with Sir George Ayscue on the latter. Cal. S.P. Dom., 1658–9, pp. 231, 497.
2 The Maidstone and the Angel. Cal. S.P. Dom., 1658–9, pp. 246, 250.
3 A privy seal for 20,000l. a year to the Protector's widow seems to have been passed in the Council on 27 November, o.s. Cal. S.P. Dom., 1658–9, page 200. Order was given on 17 December following that St. James' palace should be cleared for her, Ibid., page 222.